Is it time to swap the car for a cargo bike?

Is it time to swap the car for a cargo bike?
Published: 13-Feb-2024
Article By: Merissa Lam

In the bustling heart of urban landscapes, you may have noticed that a silent revolution is taking place – the rise of cargo bikes!

As city dwellers increasingly seek sustainable and practical alternatives to navigate the concrete jungles, cargo bikes have emerged as a versatile and eco-friendly solution, transforming the way people envision urban travel.

These bikes, equipped with sturdy frames and cargo boxes, open up a world of opportunities for users to seamlessly integrate cycling into their routines. From grocery shopping to commuting, the benefits of cargo bikes extend beyond convenience, offering a greener, healthier, and often more enjoyable alternative to traditional transportation methods.

To delve into the first-hand experience of owning a cargo bike, I had the pleasure of speaking with Eleanor who has embraced this pedal-powered lifestyle with the help of Peddle My Wheels and our Try Before you Bike Scheme.

I asked Eleanor some questions and she told me in her own words of the enormous difference her cargo bike had on hers and her family's life.

What motivated you to get a cargo bike?

My main motivation was environmental - making sure that as a family we are treading as lightly upon the earth as we can. We're also very lucky that we live in a part of London that is particularly good for cycling, with good cycle lanes and Richmond Park nearby (a mecca for cyclists). But there have been so many other benefits since we got it, especially to our health and happiness.

The cargo bike has made an enormous difference to our lives. There are the environmental benefits -- we have a car, but we hardly ever use it, and certainly not for local journeys such as doing our shopping or going to cafes or doctor's appointments. Then there's the ease of getting around to places without the faff of having to find somewhere to park the car and pay for it. Essentially, we use the bike like we used to use the car, to do shopping, to get to work, to go on adventures locally. But the benefits I didn't really think so much about beforehand are perhaps the biggest for us as a family. It's the sheer joy of being together with the children in the cargo bike, whatever the weather, going off on an adventure. We've decorated the cargo bike with fairy lights and pink wheel reflectors, and added a little sound system, so we can play audio books and music as we go. One of my favourite times of the week is our local Park Run on a Saturday morning, when we cycle up to the start line, the children in the cargo bike with me and my husband on his bike with the jogging buggy attached to the back. Then we park the bike up, unhook the jogging buggy, plonk the children in it, and go run a 5k around the park with our friends. Afterwards, the children get back in the cargo bike and we cycle off to one of our favourite cafes for a post-run coffee. I can never get used to how lucky we are to be able to do that, and it's the cargo bike that makes it possible. 


Why did you choose Peddle My Wheels?

Peddle My Wheels came up when I started searching online. When I discovered Peddle My Wheels and realised there was a scheme in our borough, plus the option to hire the bike first, then I jumped at the chance. We wouldn't have been able to afford a cargo bike without the option to rent it, and in any case we wouldn't have been sure if it would work for our lifestyle. So it was really great to be able to dip a tentative toe into the water and make sure we liked the cargo bike before we committed. To have the cargo bike delivered straight to our door was wonderful - it was such an exciting day! 

How was your experience with Peddle My Wheels?

Our experience with Peddle My Wheels has been brilliant. We feel like a part of the Peddle My Wheels family. Every month there's an email checking that everything is ok, and I know that if I need advice or help, I only need to get in touch. We have had a few queries and the odd technical issue (e.g. we've occasionally needed bits and pieces replacing, or advice about winter cycling), and every time Peddle My Wheels sorts us out. There's also information on their website about things like where to get the cargo bike serviced close to us, which is hugely important for ongoing maintenance. We have also made friends with people because we have both been riding cargo bikes, stopped to chat, and realised that we both hired them from Peddle My Wheels. So the PMW family is growing all the time! 

What difference has the cargo bike made to your life?

I don't think it's possible to say what a difference Peddle My Wheels and the cargo bike has made to my life in particular. It's the sense of freedom, adventure and possibility that I love the most. For me, cycling up the Thames path in the cargo bike is a magical experience, whatever the weather. It makes me see and appreciate the area where we live in ways that just wouldn't be possible otherwise. It has opened up our world, and I'm so grateful to Alper and the team for the wonderful work that they do.

Obviously as a business we want our customers to love their bikes but in reality it's so much more than that. As a social enterprise, we hold a clear purpose to help and support people in shifting towards healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. We are passionate about cycling and so proud of the community we've nurtured over the years, and this is precisely why Eleanor's story holds great importance for us."

To learn about Eleanor's journey, tune in to the "How can I be a more sustainable parent?" episode of radio 4’s Costing the Earth series.